Extending support and caring for COVID-19 patients

Prevent Yourself and Your Families From Corona Virus Infection:

About 80% of the infected patients recover from the disease without any special treatment...

Taking care of a COVID-19 patient within your house:

When to see a doctor:

About 80% of the infected patients recover from the disease without any special treatment. Visiting a hospital when slightest symptoms appear is not recommended.
• For corona risk assessment, nearest labs and updates regarding COVID-19, Government of Pakistan has launched CORONA WhatsApp Helpline in 7 languages. The concerned individual can send a text message at +92 300 111 1166 for the required information.
• An emergency helpline, 1166, has been designated by the GoP where any suspected patient of virus may contact for screening and treatment.

Hospitals/Labs testing for COVID-19 in Pakistan:

All district headquarter hospitals and tertiary care hospitals across the country are equipped to collect samples for coronavirus, without any cost. There are also private labs testing for COVID-19

Care for a person showing symptoms for COVID-19:

Patients showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and without any underlying medical issues can be safely cared for at home.
• The person showing symptoms should be isolated from the other members of the house to avoid further spread of infection. If this is not possible, a distance of at least 3 meters should be maintained from other household members.
• The patient should be placed in a well-ventilated room with open windows and doors.
• There should be very limited contact with the person showing symptoms.
• Shared spaces such as bathrooms should be frequently disinfected and should be well-ventilated. Toilets should be cleaned daily with disinfectants such as bleach and other cleaners.
• People who are at an increased risk of infection (elderly and people with underlying medical conditions) should not care for the ill person.
• The hygiene of the ill person, including the room, culinary etc. should be well-maintained. Respiratory hygiene by the ill person should be maintained all the time.
• To contain respiratory secretions, a medical mask should be provided to the patient and worn as much as possible, and changed daily. Individuals who cannot tolerate a medical mask should use rigorous respiratory hygiene; that is, the mouth and nose should be covered with a disposable paper tissue when coughing or sneezing. Materials used to cover the mouth and nose should be discarded or cleaned appropriately after use.
• Dishes, towels, bedsheets, furniture and any other such item used by the ill person should be kept separated from rest of the members of the family. Clothes of the ill person should be cleaned separately from the rest of the household members.
• Gloves, masks, and other waste generated during home care should be placed into a waste bin with a lid in the patient’s room before disposing of it as infectious waste. The waste from patient’s room should not be mixed with other waste generated from the house.
• Avoid other types of exposure to contaminated items from the patient’s immediate environment (e.g. do not share toothbrushes, cigarettes, eating utensils, dishes, drinks, towels, washcloths, or bed linen.
• Persons with symptoms should remain at home until their symptoms are resolved.
• The caregiver of the ill person should always wear a mask and gloves while attending the patient. The mask should be discarded after one interaction and hands should be thoroughly washed.
• The caregiver should practice hand hygiene after every contact with the ill person.
If the symptoms persist and the patient starts suffering from breathing issues, fever and continuous cough, medical help should be sought immediately.
More information can be assessed at: Home care for patients with COVID-19 presenting with mild symptoms and management of their contacts

When to use a mask during COVID-19 outbreak:

Individuals without respiratory symptoms:

• A medical mask is not required for people who are not sick and are not taking care of a patient or suspected patient of COVID-19, as there is no evidence of its usefulness in protecting them.

Individuals with respiratory symptoms:

• They should wear a medical mask and seek medical care as soon as possible if they have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

People suspected with or showing mild symptoms of COVID-19:

• They should use a medical mask; the mask should be provided to the individual and worn for as long as possible, if it can be tolerated, and changed at least once daily.
• Persons who cannot tolerate a medical mask should rigorously apply respiratory hygiene (i.e. cover mouth and nose with a disposable paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of it immediately after use, and then perform hand hygiene).

Caregivers or those sharing living space with persons with suspected COVID-19:

• They should wear a medical mask when in the same room as the affected person.
Information on advice on the use of masks in the community, during home care, and in health care settings in the context of COVID-19 can be accessed at: When and how to use a mask during COVID-19 outbreak .

Focusing on mental health during COVID-19 outbreak :

The outbreak of COVID-19 has become a cause of psychological stress for the whole population. At a time of such global crisis, following aspects should be kept in mind to ensure mental well-being of yourself and others:
• Minimize reading, watching and listening the news regarding the pandemic. Make sure the news you are believing is authentic and from relevant resources.
• Extend support to others and be compassionate. Regularly call your family, friends and acquaintance to inquire about their well-being.
• Work together as a community to create solidarity. Offer financial aid, if possible, to the workers who have lost their jobs/ ran out of business.
• Spread positive and hopeful stories of people who have recovered or have helped others to recover from the disease.
• Stay connected with others using social media. However, do not cause panic using unconfirmed news.
• Trust and appreciate your healthcare workers and informal staff.
• Form a healthy routine and schedule. Do not overindulge in internet rather spend time in activities which increase learning and boost mental health such as doing household chores, working out, meditation, reading books, doing crosswords etc.
• Engaging in healthy conversations with your friends and family regarding feeling overwhelmed due to the pandemic can help reduce stress.
• Eat a balanced diet and get adequate hours of sleep.
• Help the children in your express their emotions in a positive way. Since they cannot be allowed to go out, create activities inside homes which will also boost their learning.
• Acknowledge that feelings of distress, anger and annoyance are natural during such a time. However, these feelings can be converted to achieve something positive.
• Contact a specialist immediately if you start becoming paranoid and anxious. Umang offers free mental health helpline 24/7 (http://umang.com.pk/contact-us).
• Realize that it is a difficult time for everyone. Keeping positive thoughts, taking necessary care and extending support to others are necessary measures to create a healthy surrounding.
More information can be assessed at COVID-19: What parents should know and Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

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